The rain never came Thursday night and Derek Jeter could not have done it better in his final game as a shortstop and active player in the Bronx for the New York Yankees. The script could not have been better when he delivered the game winning single in a 6-5 walk-off win over the Baltimore Orioles.
You could not have wrote a better script before 48,613 fans who chatted “Jeter” the entire evening. But when have we not seen moments like this from Derek Jeter at the old and new Yankee Stadium? So in that ninth inning, and with Jeter on deck with the winning run at second, he once again played the script to perfection.
That final at bat, in a Yankees uniform in the Bronx, will be chronicled as one of those famed Yankees moments in years to come. The only blemish is the Yankees left for Boston and will conclude their disappointing season with three games at Fenway Park.
Jeter won’t be going to the postseason. That part of the script did not go to plan because the perfect finale would have been Derek Jeter, the Captain, making another spectacular play on the field or getting another game winning hit in October. He will play his final three games as a designated hitter, and not at shortstop, and that’s typical Derek Jeter wanting to give not just Yankees fans but baseball fans an opportunity to see him on the field a final time.
“No,” said Jeter about the ninth inning dramatics that to him were unexpected. “Write what you want, put my name at the bottom of it,” he said in what was probably his last post game meeting with the media adjacent to the Yankees clubhouse .
This was not the final day of the lovefest and farewell. Jeter will get another huge ovation from the heated and rival Red Sox fans. Because the entire baseball world has appreciated the accomplishments and how a player in New York for 20-years went about his business.
The lovefest won’t end until that final time at bat on Sunday afternoon.
And make what you want about the Jeter stories this past week. It may have been overkill and dominated the conversation.There were the critics attempting to downplay how Jeter stands as one of the all-time Yankees greats, and those who made a profit on the Jeter final week in the Bronx.
It is all a part of paying homage to a ballplayer who put on the Yankees uniform and was instrumental in being part of a championship run that may not be seen again for a long time.
And now Derek Jeter has realized that it has come to an end. All season, and more so this week, there were the constant questions about reality setting, and that the last page of the script was coming to a finale.
“It’s a weird way of emotions,” said Jeter who admitted he was choked up on the field. “I’m excited now. This whole year it’s been special. It’s almost like watching a funeral highlights and things. People are giving me well wishes like I’m going to dye. I appreciate it all.”
“Guess on the baseball side, because it’s over with,” Jeter said. Because it was not a funeral but a celebration that continued for fans outside Yankee Stadium hours after his final and dramatic hit in the Bronx.
“Part of the dream is over now,’ Jeter said. He was holding back the tears. You could tell from the tone in his voice that reality has set in, and the next time he steps on the field at Yankee Stadium he will be an Oldtimer.
And for generation of Yankees fans, those who grew up watching and admiring Derek Jeter, there dream is also over. Because the Yankees and their fans said goodbye to the last of the “Core Four.”
Those guys are like my brothers,” Jeter said about Andy Petitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.They were by the Yankees dugout along with Bernie Williams and the former manager, Joe Torre, an Honor Guard of Yankees as Jeter left the Yankee Stadium playing field for a final time.
Jeter said baseball is a game of adjustments and he will adapt to not getting prepared for another spring training and new season of hope for the Yankees in 2015. The fans will have to adjust as well, because not seeing Derek Jeter as an active player will last a long time.
Joe Girardi, who managed the last Jeter championship team in 2009 also has realized that the end is here.
He said about that last game winning hit, “Fitting, think about all the big hits he’s had in his career.” It will be a game winning hit that will be seen time and time again on the highlight reels ,and put in the category of great hits in New York Yankees history.
The everlasting image of Derek Jeter taking that final tour of the basepaths at Yankee Stadium and waving his cap to the crowd, as the divisional champion Orioles stood at the top of their dugout and tipped their caps in appreciation was compelling. It almost appeared that we were reading the mind of Derek Jeter, and perhaps he did not want to say goodbye after another three RBI night.
But it is reality. Derek Jeter wrote a perfect script for 20-years and it was a perfect ending Thursday night in the Bronx.
Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso www.newyorksportsexaminer.com